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Panthers WR Smith shares connection to Giants' Nicks

He may share a name with a Giants

He may share a name with a Giants receiver, but the Panthers' Steve Smith has a closer connection to Giants rookie Hakeem Nicks. Credit: Getty Images

Carolina receiver Steve Smith has a close connection to one of the Giants' receivers, but it's not the one you might think.

Obviously the Giants have a receiver who goes by the same name of Steve Smith, but the Carolina version said they don't really have that much in common.

"Actually my real name isn't Steve Smith," Steve Smith said. "That's the name I go by, that's the name that my dad has and people always called me that since I was a little boy. But my mom and my wife, all my family, call me by my birth name. That is really what I go by outside of football."

Smith's real first name is Stevonne, and he went by that name as a football player until he arrived at Utah as a junior college transfer. (Interestingly he played in junior college with another future NFLer who would go on to change his name: Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson.)

A quick Google search provided that information. Smith would not.

"You have to talk to my mommy on that one," he said when asked what his real name is. "I only really give it to my friends, I don't give it to strangers. You learn that at a young age."

So while the Smiths might not have much of a relationship, the Panthers veteran is much closer to Giants rookie Hakeem Nicks.

In fact, when Nicks was drafted by the Giants this spring, Smith called the rookie and they spoke on the phone for about an hour.

"Hakeem is from Charlotte and he went to school here and obviously he played up in Raleigh [at the University of North Carolina]," Smith said. "So I have known about him a lot and I know some people that have had very good things to say about him. He is a high-character guy. And so I just kind of reached out to him."

That meant a lot to Nicks.

"I was a big fan of Steve Smith in high school, actually," Nicks said. "After the draft, he heard in passing that he was my favorite receiver, and he reached out to me because I had a Carolina [college] teammate who went to the Panthers."

Smith gave Nicks some advice on playing receiver at the pro level and also gave him a pep talk.

"I just told him the sky is the limit," Smith said. "He has a great opportunity in New York. It's a big market. He has a lot of opportunities to play."

Smith, like most others, was especially impressed by Nicks' performance in last year's Meineke Bowl against West Virginia.

"Just take that same mentality up there in New York and I think he will be a star," Smith said he told Nicks. "Only time will tell if he listened or not."

As for the Giants' Steve Smith - who has eclipsed the Panthers' one in terms of production this season - the Carolina-based player said he does not pay much attention to stats or watch football when it's not work-related. But he did say that the Giants' receiver is having a terrific year.

"He might be a Pro Bowler," Smith said. "I think it would be disrespectful to try to take anything away from him. He has a Super Bowl ring. I don't."

Yet another difference to note.

Notes & Quotes: After listing 13 players on the injury report on Wednesday, all but five participated in Thursday's workout. CB Corey Webster (knee), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles/foot), G Rich Seubert (knee) and T Kareem McKenzie (knee) did not work . . . LB Michael Boley (triceps) who was projected as being out of Wednesday's jog-through, was practicing, as was WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) who left the Monday night game early with his injury.

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